Cut Out Complex Objects with Affinity Photo


In this tutorial we use Affinity Photo to cut out an image from a larger image. Once extracted, we make adjustments to the cut out, such as its colour, without affecting the larger image.

While following the tutorial, you can click on the images to view a larger version in a new window or tab.

You can also learn this technique by watching our YouTube video below, or directly on YouTube.

If you do watch on YouTube, please consider giving the video a Like, and Subscribing for more tutorials!


Open a Photo.

You might want to consider saving the photo as an Affinity Photo project at this stage. Doing this enables us to press Ctrl + S to do a quick save of the project at any point during development.

Duplicate the Background layer by right-clicking on it in the layers panel and selecting Duplicate. This gives us a convenient copy of the original photo for reference and serves as a backup. It will also allow us to quickly toggle between our final adjusted image and the original at the end of the tutorial.

The first thing we're going to do is extract the whole of the bodywork, without the wheels, as one complete object. From here we will cut out the parts we don't need, until we are left with just the paintwork.

We could use the Selection tool to perform the cutout, but we're going to use the Pen tool instead, as in this case, it's more flexible for our objective. The Pen tool allows us to make adjustments to our curves later on if we need to.

Select the Pen tool.

We now need to confirm to Pen tool settings are correct. In the toolbar at the top, make sure the settings are the following.

Fill and Stroke don't really matter and don't need to be adjusted.

Set Mode to Pen Mode.

Unset all of the Convert options.

Unset all Snapping options.

Turn off Use Fill.

Once done, your Pen toolbar should look like it does in the following screenshot. The Pen toolbar is the one with the mouse currently over it.

Let's start at the left hand corner, above the light.

Zoom in a bit by holding down Ctrl and using the mouse wheel.

Now we can start placing points around the edge of the object, spacing the points to match the curves of the object. Simply left-click with the mouse to place points.

If you are unhappy with where you have placed a point, you can move it. Move the point to where you want it, by holding down Ctrl and dragging it with the left mouse button.

You can also add a new point between two existing points. Move the mouse pointer to the position on a line between two points where you would like to create a new point.

Hold down Ctrl and left-click to create the new point at this position.

You can of course move this point around like any other point, by holding down Ctrl and dragging it with the left mouse button.

If you would like to delete a point, select it with the left mouse button, then press the Delete key.

To continue adding points, make sure the last point is selected by left-clicking on it. Then continue adding more, which is also done by left-clicking.

You now know how to add, move and delete points. This enables you to adjust the curve to exactly how you want it.

To move around the photo while zoomed in, press Space and drag the photo with the left mouse button.

Okay, let's create the shape we want to cut out by adding all of the points. This is quite a long-winded process!

You might make a mistake along the way, for example below we placed points down the bodywork, when we actually wanted to go accross the fin.

If this happens, you can press Ctrl + Z to undo previous actions, which is a little quicker than deleting the points manually.

Let's finish creating the shape.

After a while you will reach the first point.

Simply left-click on the point to complete the shape.

Now, if we zoom out, we can see the complete shape. It's a good idea to save frequently, so you might want to hit Ctrl + S to save at this stage.

You may have noticed that under the wheel arch, we went across the tire rather than around the arch.

This is because there is some red in the shadows, under the wheel arch, and we want to make sure that we capture that, as it will make a difference when we come to recolour the car.

Under the other wheel arch, it didn't matter, since it's all black, and there is no colour to save.

Go to Part 2!